There seems to be a little theme emerging in the life of some blog buddies these days, to do with creativity and putting it out there and such like that. People far more talented and creative that moi
, like my beloved Hat
, have opined about it. And people, like she and Iwanski
, are even actually doing something about it, accompanied by a chorus of "Go for it!" from this supportive little group.
As a rule, I find that the vast majority of us are very creative people, living our regular lives but dreaming about our creative self being more "out there", possibly even earning the occasional ducat from something we love. I fantasize from time to time about the fascinating conversation Oprah and I have about my moving and funny new book or the way in which my syndicated column has the power to change the world. Sure I do. Not that I've actually done anything that would remotely get me a call from Oprah's people, but I think about it.
I think that blogging is wonderful, of course. But I persist in the fantasy that Graydon Carter is just gonna stumble across my blog and insist that I become a staff writer for "Vanity Fair"...that my writing is going to become a career without me doing anything more than sitting in front of my laptop in my jammies and writing crap. Which, you see, is not how it is done.
Since the Unbound Press, one year ago, I haven't submitted anything for publication. Partly it's the classic "fear of rejection". Sure it is. Hell, I'm more protective of my writing than I was of my heart. Back in the day I was putting it out there all the time, only to have it lied to and tossed around like a Frisbee and kicked into the gutter until The Spouse came along and saw the battered, bruised little bugger and said, "Oh, poor little heart, I will love you".
But my writing? That's another monkey altogether.
"But you put it out there every day on your blog," says you.
"Sure", says me, "because it doesn't feel like a risk". Only twice, in nearly 3 years, have I ever received a negative comment from some anonymous bastid who unkindly told me that he/she thought what I wrote was twaddle. (That was a real word someone used. Hee. I write twaddle). But fundamentally this is a very supportive community who are always saying things to each other like "this is brilliant...I loved this...you should be published" (and really, we should all listen to each other more because we are quite right about that). But getting writing out there where assorted editors and publishers can see it and say, "Meh"? That's scary.
Oh, but it's even more than that, I just realized. I wasn't raised to say "Hey, looky me!" Which is what submitting feels like. Isn't there something kinda pushy about sending in an unsolicited piece to someone? Something that smacks of a little girl in a new party dress twirling around the middle of a cocktail party saying "Aren't I pretty? Don't you just love me?" Because in my experience that is the sort of behavior that gets one sent to one's room.
Consequently, I realized that it fundamentally goes against my nature to ask for attention, to promote myself. Which might make me fit for polite society but isn't going to do a lick toward lengthening my CV or getting me clients. (Because that whole marketing/self-promotion thing is required for that, too, and I haven't been comfortable doing it. Which is problematic).
Then I was thinking about Buck
. A month or so ago I sent him a link I'd found to a magazine in Chicago that was looking for local writers. He sent in a piece. They loved it. Not only are they going to publish it - and pay him for it - but they want him to write more. I'm super proud of the fact that he's going to be published. But when he was here I told him that I was even more proud of the fact that he had submitted something in the first place. And in his quiet and self-deprecating way he admitted that he almost hadn't...that it had come right down to the wire and then he decided "what the heck". Maybe it didn't feel like a risk to him. But the point is that he did it.
I have a dream for my life. It has me helping people organize their homes - for money - which is something that I find to be a very affirming task, something which brings me delight and energy. And at my age, I really want to be able to work at something that feeds me rather than sapping me. In fact, at my age, I think I deserve that. I've been in soul-deadening-gig-just-to-pay-the-rent land. I don't think I have to go there now. And part of what I like about this scenario that I've envisioned for myself is that it still leaves me time and energy to write. Which is the other thing I really, really want to do. Granted, if some things don't break pretty soon I may have to abandon part of that dream because high school tuition ain't gonna pay for itself. (In fact, I'm going to start temping after the first of the year for a bit. I was going to start earlier but soon everyone else in the family will be on Christmas break and I selfishly want to play, too). Point is, I want to make my business work and I want to publish and I am going to have to take concrete steps before saying that it isn't going to work.
Fine, so here's the thing. Those concrete steps go against my nature and make me feel uncomfortable. Duly noted. But my dreams aren't going to come true unless I'm willing to stop thinking about how hard it is for me and be willing to twirl at the cocktail party in my pretty pink dress even if it means the grownups are disapproving and send me to bed.
I took a little risk last week. I was reading Blogging Project Runway
and they have a feature called "Recapalooza" where they share other bloggers recaps of the show. There was a call to send them links. So I did. What the hell, right? And yesterday I learned that they had linked me
! On top of that, my hits yesterday were more than twice what they normally are. And you know where all that traffic came from? That's right. Now granted, "Here's the Thing" isn't a commercial site and all that traffic doesn't mean anything in the way of income or potential fame or a syndicated column. In fact, there's a very good chance that most of those readers will only come around if I'm doing Project Runway stuff. Which is fine. The point is that I did, in a very small and totally uncharacteristic way, put myself out there by sending that link and it didn't kill me. So maybe, just maybe, I can find the wherewithal to do it again, only this time to a press or magazine. Because truly, at this point, I have absolutely nothing to lose. Greater writers than I have been rejected, for crying out loud. It's part of the territory. So what?
Here's some more shameless self-promotion: I'm trying an experiment with my business. I'm offering on-line services. I don't know that anyone else is doing something like this or if it's going to work but I'm giving it a whirl. The way it works is that a client sends me pictures of a trouble spot, I ask some questions and then come up with a strategy for them. The service then includes a month of electronic hand-holding whereby I email them to see how it's going, offering additional advice and encouragement as they work through the challenge. It may work. It may not. But it's worth a shot, right?
it occurred to me (here's the shameless self-promotion part) that I should tell all y'all about it. Because maybe some of you would just love
to have a virtual organizer. Maybe you know someone who would. Which led to an even crazier thought, along the lines of "Hey, you know what would make a superfantastic Christmas gift? Moi
That's right. You can now purchase my virtual organizer services
as a gift for that hard-to-buy-for someone. Perhaps you know someone who lives in the Seattle area; in that case you could consider buying an hour of in-home consulting for someone you love. Wouldn't that be better than a Wii or an iPod? 'K, maybe not, but it certainly would be different. Anygoo, think about it. There are very nifty PayPal buttons on the site and if you decide that this is just
the last-minute-holiday gift you need for someone, simply purchase the service you're interested in and then email me (the business email is on the site), with the name of the lucky recipient and I'll send you a gift certificate for them.
took a lot out of me. We can pretend it didn't happen. (Unless you were thinking, "Damn, that is a swell idea! I am so getting that for Auntie Mame!" In which case, I'm super glad I told you so you could finish your holiday shopping early.)
Now I'm going to go enjoy my really super clean house for a bit. And then I've got some articles to work on.
Labels: dreams, how I'll pay for tuition, writing